English is a funny language but Hindi is a confusing language. When I look back upon how I ended up understanding Hindi I end up clueless. The foundation most probably lies in bollywood movies. Another factor which helped was that I studied in a school which had a large population Hindi speaking students. My school was built primarily for the the children of the factory workers of the school owner. All the factory workers were from N.India.
Though I understood Hindi fairly well, I never tried speaking it. Needless to say I have a S.Indian accent which shows predominantly when I speak Hindi. All the girls on the other hand are blessed with an accent-less Hindi. I still wonder how many of my girl classmates could speak flawless accent-less Hindi considering all of us had the same kind of exposure. Without an exception everyone has laughed when I spoke/speak Hindi.
There was this one friend who was hell bent on hearing me speaking Hindi. After much reluctance I gave in and spoke my first word in Hindi with her. She laughed so hard and I guess for atleast a couple of days. I believe couple of her roommates were scared for a couple of night looking at her laughing for no reason.She stopped after a couple of days because I stopped trying.
Some words baffle me. You use the same word for tomorrow and yesterday. How could this happen? May be the inventors could not agree upon the usage. When they could think of so many words in the entire language why could they not think of another word for tomorrow or yesterday. It was like the time when my aunt said 'Yesterday we will be going to a movie'. Then there are numbers. Numbers in English and Kannada are easy. You learn from one to twenty. Then you re-use the same numbers. But in Hindi you have to learn 100 different words. I have managed to learn till 20 so far. Someone throws a number at you above twenty and you feel like an arrow was shot in your direction. You change the conversation to something else and feel like you dodged the arrow. Like the time when you asked a vegetable vendor how much the beans cost but could not understand the number he said. So you ask him where he got the tea he is drinking and walk away. The shopkeeper was left wondering why you left because you were drinking tea from the local chai-wala .
Then comes the time. Telling time in Hindi is crazy. I was to meet a friend at for a movie and the meeting time was adhai. I knew numbers from 1-20 but had never heard of adhai. Again had to cajole her into saying the time in English. Then there is something like paune/pawne. Someone says pawne something like, pawne dus for example. I always thought this meant 10:45, turns out it is 9:45. Where is 9 in pawne dus? I had once gone to buy chillies and asked for 'sawa kilo' of chillies. The shopkeeper was happy. I was wondering why. He had never sold that huge quantity. When he handed over the bag of chillies I was dumbstuck. I had to do a lot of explanation to do once back home.